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Hand Foot and Mouth Disease

Hand Foot and Mouth Disease - What it is

hand foot mouth disease conditions and treatments

What Is Hand, Foot And Mouth Disease (HFMD)?

This is an infectious disease caused by a family of viruses called Enteroviruses -- the commonest being the Coxsackie virus and Enterovirus. It can occur in people from various age groups, especially pre-schoolers. It is a very common disease in Singapore and has been in existence for many years. It is not a rare or new disease.

How Do You Know If Your Child Has HFMD?

Children with HFMD will have blister-like or pimple-like rash on their hands, feet and buttocks, mouth ulcers and fever. In addition, the child may have a sore throat, runny nose, experience vomiting and diarrhoea, and may feel tired.

You may bring your child to the polyclinic or see your family doctor. There is no need to rush your child to the Children's Emergency just to confirm the diagnosis of HFMD.

How Can Your Child Get HFMD?

HFMD can be easily spread through direct contact with nose discharge, saliva, faeces and fluid from the blisters.

Is This Disease Serious?

The disease is usually mild and most children will recover in about a week’s time. Only very rarely do certain rare strains of the virus cause complications such as inflammation of the brain and heart.

Is HFMD Treatable?

There is no specific treatment for HFMD. The symptoms are usually mild and children usually recover well as their own immune system fights off the virus. Your doctor will give medication to control the fever.

You should encourage your child to take as much oral fluids as possible. Your child may not have a good appetite because swallowing may be painful. However, ensure that your child has adequate fluid to prevent dehydration. Offer your child small amounts of fluid (about 10 – 30 mls each time) such as diluted juices, rice or barley water every half hourly and about 10 - 30 mls each time throughout the day. Antibiotics are ineffective because this is a viral, not a bacterial infection.

Does A Prior Infection With Enterovirus Make A Person Immune?

Specific immunity can occur, but a second episode is possible from a different strain of virus belonging to the enterovirus family.

Hand Foot and Mouth Disease - Symptoms

Hand Foot and Mouth Disease - How to prevent?

​What Can Be Done To Prevent The Spread Of This Disease?

Infected children should not be allowed to go to school, childcare centres and other crowded places until he is fully recovered and for at least 1 week after the start of the illness.

Practise good general hygiene. Wash your hands immediately after contact with the infected child or handling diaper changes, and before handling food. The virus can continue to be shed in stools up to 12 weeks in an infected child so practice good hand hygiene when changing diapers for the infected child. Prevent other children from contact with toys, books, eating utensils, towels, clothes and other personal items used by the infected child.

Hand Foot and Mouth Disease - Causes and Risk Factors

Hand Foot and Mouth Disease - Diagnosis

Hand Foot and Mouth Disease - Treatments

Hand Foot and Mouth Disease - Preparing for surgery

Hand Foot and Mouth Disease - Post-surgery care

Hand Foot and Mouth Disease - Other Information

When Should A Child With HFMD Be Brought To The Children’s Emergency?

Most children with HFMD are relatively well and active despite their illness. Your family doctor or the polyclinic will be able to manage the majority of the cases.

However, you should bring your child in to the Children’s Emergency if you notice any of the following:

  • when the oral intake of fluids is poor, or when the child is unable to swallow, or vomits persistently
  • when the tongue is dry, or when the child has decreased urine output (dehydration)
  • if the child appears lethargic, drowsy or irritable, is crying persistently, or is disorientated
  • when seizures occur
  • if there is difficulty in breathing
  • if the child looks ashen, pale or blue.
  • if the child complains of acute headache or giddiness, or if there is neck stiffness

Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (Pregnant Women)

What Are The Risks For Pregnant Women Infected By HFMD?

Pregnant women who get HFMD may experience miscarriage, stillbirth or severe disease in the newborn (if she acquired the infection close to delivery).

What Should Pregnant Women Do If They Have Close Contact With Their Infected Child?

Pregnant women should practise good hand hygiene by washing their hands after each contact. If the infected child suffers from severe runny nose and cough, it is advisable to wear surgical mask when in close contact (less than 3 feet). Do not prick the blisters as the fluid can be contagious. Do not share toothbrushes etc, as saliva contains the virus.

The information provided is not intended as medical advice. Terms of use. Information provided by SingHealth